Have you ever seen or completed a “to do,” that ran on forever? Writing a very long list can be compared to taking every thought in your brain and letting it flow onto paper. There is so much stuff that it looks impossible to ever complete and sadly that is what usually happens.

This type of list is also disorganized, in that you do not have items grouped or prioritized. A quick example would be having a long list and at number 5, you have “repair the toilet in the basement.” Then scrolling down the list, you find at number 51, “buy a new Phillips screwdriver, for the toilet tank bolts.”

Fix your long list by doing something simple like taking a good-sized notebook and making columns. At the head of each column, put the grouping, Personal, Business, Health, Spiritual and any other main goal. Then chunk your list in each column, like tasks numbered 1 to 5 and then another set of like tasks 6 to 10 and so on.

Another mistake is writing tasks that are going to take more than a day to complete. It is so overwhelming that you won’t begin. Instead do a main task, followed by sub-tasks that you can check off as they are done, until the full task is complete. An example of that, is decluttering your garage. So, your main task on the list is, “declutter garage.” Under that break it down into, “buy garbage bags,” “separate items to garbage, items to charity, items to sell.” Continue breaking it down into easy bite size chunks.

We talked about having tasks on our lists that are too long. One list mistake many people make, is not understanding that even well put together lists, need a rest break scheduled in. When you are doing a batch of tasks, you don’t want to be overwhelmed and start thinking of cold drinks in the lawn chair.

Put your list together and as you do, pick a rest time that you know will recharge your batteries and write that into the list. Not everyone needs the same amount of time. If one person needs a five- minute break, another may have health issues that impact what they do. In this regard, they may do five of the important tasks on their list and then need a 20-30 minute break to cool down, massage certain joints in their body or make sure they are getting enough fluids in to stay hydrated…keeping the blood pressure in check.

Having a “to do,” that is too vague, means not much will get completed. You won’t look at it and feel motivated at all. When we talked about sub-tasks for decluttering the garage, that is an example we can expand. Imagine writing down, “trash items.” And that is all you put. Not very motivating. When you change it up to, “items for children’s charities,” and “items to sell for cash-buy new bike,” then you get more excited about tackling that “to do” list and marking things done.

Another mistake is not assigning time to the tasks on the list. You need to have an understanding of how it will take to complete each item. It makes the task feel more like a priority, than say having a nap in the sun. As well, having a time on the task, and marking down if it took you more or less time, helps you to analyze what tasks you do are time wasters. In understanding what wastes your time, you can avoid these items at all costs and focus your priority on other list items.

Check your “to do” lists frequently to see where you may be making mistakes and don’t get frustrated. Just acknowledge it and then repair the issue.